Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finding Time

It's great that I've got renewed vigor to work on my dissertation. But having a full-time clinical internship, family, church demands, plus my own spiritual disciplines take up so much time that when I am ready to read, I need to rest instead.

For all you single dissertators out there: count your blessings!

I'm cutting back on church involvement. My calling now is to work on my dissertation. And if friends get upset with me for not hanging out with them, or people wonder what's wrong with me that I am not as involved in church activities, I just have bite the bullet and proceed with the advice of those who have gone before me in the hallowed halls of academia: Lock myself up!

And I think I'll add to that: See a counselor to work on my guilt for not interacting with people more.

... sigh.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I am finding the books, the articles, the works that deal with the research topic of my life calling.

This just can't be real. It can't be happening.

I am so excited; I am so nervous; I think I'm going to cry... or throw up. Or both.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Getting Started: Preamble-ing

Setting up your space--formatting documents, rearranging bookshelves, renaming files, etc.--is important. As important as clearing out your mind of other distractions so that you can focus on the task at hand.

I need to add such "preamble-ing" activities to my routine. I find them relaxing and helpful for getting into the work. Much better than just walking around the room or internet surfing randomly because I can't seem to shake off the anxiety associated with getting started.

Do you do have such preamble-ing activities in your routine? Or do you do something different to get yourself into a work mode?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Think I'm Getting It

At first, it was about trying to get a dissertation fellowship. Now, it is about the integrity of the methodology and the centrality of the research purpose to my life calling.

Conceptually, the difference between the two can be labeled as extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation.

Metaphorically, the difference is like sweeping up loose hay just to get rid of the mess versus carefully preparing every straw to construct the wings of the very first human aircraft.

The former stresses me out; the latter gives me life.

Isn't the choice rather obvious?

The Log! The Log!

Why do I keep forgetting? When I am having trouble getting into the mode of research, start keeping a log:
  • Put down all thoughts, feelings, questions on paper (or computer)
  • Identify tasks to do for short periods of time
  • Use a timer (with buzzer) to keep on track with tasks
  • Take helpful breaks
  • Summarize in own words what has been read so far
  • Identify "next steps"
  • Print out and file log for easy access
Now, to get a tea, and come back to work.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I've Been Tasered. Come and play!

I have been tasered by the CEO (Career Encouragement Officer). The rules:

1. Provide a list of the books you’re currently reading.

a) Qualitative inquiry & Research Design, by John Creswell (1st and 2nd editions -- yes, I'm reading both editions, okay? :-P)
b) Handbook of Qualitative Research, edited by Denzin & Lincoln (1st and 2nd editions -- like I said!)
c) Grounded Theory in Practice, by Strauss & Corbin, 1997.
d) Qualitative Methods in Family Research, edited by Gilgun, Daly & Handel, 1992.
e) Handbook of Interview Research: Context & Method, edited by Gubrium & Holstein, 2002.
f) ...
There is a lot more along the same vein, but I won't bore you to death. And yes, this is why I'm the lonely dissertator.

2. Pick up the nearest book.

Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach (by Joseph Maxwell, 2005, 2nd ed.). Look, it's important to specify the edition, okay? People have made important changes to their writing! I mean, really!

3. Open to page 123

4. Find the fifth sentence.

5. Post the next three sentences.

Here we go: The introduction to your proposal "sets the stage for your research, explaining ... what you want to do and why" (Peters, 1992, p.202). It should clearly present the goals of your study and the problem (s) it addresses, and give an overview of your main research questions and the kind of study you are proposing.

Ha! Perfect, exactly where I am now, soon to write the intro to my proposal!

6. Tag five more people.

I tag Fajita's Blog, Ceiling In My Drink, Wilful Sunflower, Sivin Kit, Scholar Wannabe, and Sherman On The Mount. These are fine folks, the kind that love to read and would never make fun of me for admitting that I read both editions of a book. Hmm... let me add one more to the list: Twwt2001. Hmm... that's seven people, isn't it? Good thing I'm doing qualitative research! :-D


By the way, being tasered apparently is real problem. Some people have died from it. Here's a youtube video of a student getting tasered, and who's made famous the line, "Don't tase me, bro!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Short Bursts

I'm experimenting with working on my proposal over short bursts of time. Why? Because a deadline for scholarship is looming ahead, and I need to get to work, and I don't have the luxury of large chunks of time.

I am finding it frustrating that I cannot spend more time going deeper. The nice irony is, even though it cuts my time for going deeper, it also cuts my lead up time [read: procrastination] to actually getting productive. I get less done in one sitting but I get more actual work done in the longer term.

I'm going to keep experimenting. A coffee shop, ear plugs, a mobile laptop, good internet connectivity, and the right reading material are all that's needed. Last but not least, the changes of scene from one burst to another is most enjoyable!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Michael White

The clinical director in my Master's program was very fond of narrative therapy. And so it's not a surprise that I got a good dose of it and am influenced by its tenets quite a bit in my clinical work.

I just got news on email that Michael White, a key figure in narrative therapy, died of a massive heart attack while at a speaking engagement in San Diego.

I was hoping that after this PhD is done, I could get more hands-on clinical training with some of the masters. It's too bad that I will not be able to watch Michael White at work. I've heard amazing things about the way he does therapy.

May he rest in peace, and his work continue to thrive.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Need More Time To Read

I'm spending too much time doing clinical work and church work that I'm not getting much reading done. My only leisure time goes into exercising (which is really necessity rather than leisure) and blogging (which is fully leisure).

I can't avoid the clinical, it has to be done. I can avoid the church work, at least for a season. I can avoid the blogging too, but then I'd turn into a miserable SOB. Not a good thing.

I just need to get a good chunk of time to read.

Let's start with going to bed early.

(I know what you're thinking: how is that related to reading more? It is. Just trust me on that.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not Quite A Feminist

Yesterday marked the last meeting I needed to set up my new committee. I met Committee Member in her office, and we had a very nice conversation. She has lived in Buddhist Country and speaks the language fluently. In some ways, she behaves like people from that country. Buddhist Country may not be where I will collect my data, but My Country is pretty close to it, and so culturally, she is the closest informant in my department. She said she would be very happy to be in my committee.

Now I have a committee of three women. Two women co-advisers, and one woman committee member. I struggled with that a little, then realized that I am a man, and so is Outside Committee Member. That's balance, isn't it?

Working with women does feel different from working with men (generally speaking). I just need to alter my worldview slightly and chant a new mantra: "Let the estrogen flow!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

5 things you didn't know about Narcissistic personality disorders

The Miami Herald - April 01, 2008

Apr. 1--This relatively newly defined disorder first appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980 and the diagnostic criteria was revised in 1987 and 1994. Dr. William Samek, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Miami, explains the disorder:

1All about me: It's a character disorder in which a person tends to: have an inflated sense of self-importance; be preoccupied with thoughts of his or her great success, power, brilliance, or beauty; believe that he or she is special, unique or better than everyone else; desire, expect, or demand excessive admiration from others; have a sense of entitlement; exploit and take advantage of others; lack empathy and emotional connection to others; and be arrogant and act superior.

2Deep down: People with narcissistic personalities, in spite of their thoughts and behaviors, unconsciously feel inferior and inadequate.

3Successful treatment: Many experts believe narcissistic people can never be successfully treated. In fact they can be successfully treated. Treatment usually needs to be compelled, is long term (several years), and often requires both a mental health professional with special expertise in treating narcissistic personalities and another person or institution that has the power to require that the narcissistic person completes treatment. Treatment is usually best done in group therapy with other individuals who have narcissistic personality problems.

4Dysfunctional childhood: Narcissistic personality disorders are often caused by poor parenting and a dysfunctional childhood. The parents of a narcissist either overly spoiled and pampered the child or they were overly harsh and abusive. Either extreme may cause a child to develop a narcissistic personality.

5Mild to severe: Narcissistic personality disorder comes in all levels of intensity, from very mild to very severe. Mild forms are attracted to and may become leaders in industry and government.

Dr. Samek is an executive board member of the Dade County Psychological Association.


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